From February 1, 2022 to January 31, 2023, I posted an entry a day to the @gamesdiner Twitter account, using the hashtags #TRPG, #GURPS, and #DailyHouserule. The concept: Make tweets out of a bunch of minor GURPS houserule items, GM/player advice tidbits, and other tips & tricks, to have a bit of fun engaging with other gamers and get the #GURPS tag out there more. (See the initial announcement here.)
The year is up! I’m now posting those tweets to this site, a month per page. Links to all 12 months are below.
Do forgive the overly abbreviated and janky writing. These were tweets, so the text is full of shortcuts to fit the format. For better or worse, I’m leaving the content mostly untouched.
Entries by month:
Entries No. 60 to 89
2022-04-01: Yesterday’s entry suggested varying Breath Control’s effect on breath-holding time (by using margin of success).
An alternate, simpler method:
Let Breath Control replace HT (if higher) as the base for breath-holding time.
You can even combine the two ideas: use the higher of HT or Breath Control as the base for breath-holding time, then further increase time (up to 10% x MoS) for a Breath Control roll.
Hm? Won’t that result in ridiculously long breath-holding times? Nope. Not even close.
World records are around 12 min, 2x that after long hyper-ventilation with pure oxygen. You need both of the two suggested ideas + ridiculous skill (25+?) to get near that!
So embrace any house rules/circumstances (incl. hyperventilation, B351) that boost breath-holding time.
2022-04-02: Final idea for boosting Breath Control: After aiming a ranged weapon for 3 seconds, let a 4th second of Aim add an extra +1 TH if a Breath Control roll succeeds. (Failure means the extra second did nothing, but you can keep aiming and trying!)
This is a rough, action-oriented alternative to the detailed Precision Aiming rules found on GURPS Tactical Shooting p. 26. Use those rules instead if you want ultimate sniping realism!
2022-04-03: Max breath-holding time is based on level of exertion. What if you want to hyper-manage time while PCs mix up exertion level?
Easy: Start with No Exertion time; subtract 1 sec per turn of No Exertion, 2 per turn of Mild, 4 per turn of Heavy.
And with that, I think I’ve exhausted my supply of hot air on this topic.
Thank you for your patience during Breath Week, seven days of posts on a supremely trivial area of rules miscellanea.
2022-04-04: B421 lets cutting damage lop off arms and legs but not heads (other than as a killing blow special effect).
That’s fine for hits on PCs and bosses, for play balance reasons.
But fodder and mooks? Treat necks like limbs, and let the heads roll!
That said, severing should require more cutting damage for a neck than for a limb (50% more, for simplicity?).
Why? Play balance, sure, but also to offset the higher cutting damage multiplier for the neck (x2, vs x1.5 for limb). Severing a neck shouldn’t be easier than severing an arm!
Example: HP 10 = 6 dam to cripple or 12 dam to destroy a limb.
With a cut, that’s 4 basic hits x1.5 to cripple or 8 basic hits x1.5 to sever a limb —but only 6 basic hits x2 to sever a neck!
If we boost necks’ toughness by 50%, beheading now requires a more reasonable 9 basic hits x2 = 18 dam.
2022-04-05: By the book, the damage needed to lop off an arm or leg works out to a complicated “(HP/2, rounded down, +1) x 2”.
Feel free to simplify that to “Over HP” damage for a limb, or “Over 2/3 HP” damage for an extremity.
If you use yesterday’s idea to apply dismemberment rules to necks as well, but requiring 50% more damage than a limb:
Damage required for beheading becomes “(HP/2, rounded down, +1) x 3” — or, roughly simplified, “Over HP x1.5” damage.
2022-04-06: It’s the new heavy saber! Users of Saber skill now have an arsenal with two weapons in it!
Saber skill; sw cut, thr+1 imp; R 1; Parry 0F; $850; Wt 2.5; ST 9
Let’s allow use with Broadsword too: Same stats, but Parry 0.
This heavy saber still doesn’t match the cavalry saber as a cutter, but it’s agile enough for fencing.
It does cut as well as the edged rapier (though without that weapon’s long Reach).
Full details are here: link
2022-04-07: DF Denizens: Swashbucklers offers the advantage “Van Gogh My Van Dyke”. That’s fine, but I prefer the name “Close Shave”—fitting and easy to remember.
(Other than Honesty → Law-Abiding, tho, I leave names alone. You? Got any favorite re-namings?)
2022-04-08: DF/DFRPG: No one’s asking exactly how long poisoning a blade takes. But pretend you did:
Let’s say base 10 sec, x30 for max extra time = 5 min.
Skill? Imagine +5 skill for easy task, +5 for extra time = +10 to Poisons… Call it no roll needed.
But: Are you in a hurry? Then do make a Poisons roll, using the appropriate time mod.
Sample net mods to the Poisons roll, using a +5 mod for easy task plus mod for time:
- 5 min: +10 (Per rules, don’t bother rolling.)
- 40 sec: +7
- 10 sec: +5
- 1 sec: -4
Make this rushed-dosing Poisons roll upon scoring a hit (just like extra doses).
- If roll succeeds: Poison works. (Any extra doses now get their normal Poisons roll.)
- If roll fails: Poison fails. (Any extra doses fail too!)
Best not to hurry.
On site: link
2022-04-09: Yesterday’s entry imagined time needed to envenom a weapon.
Today: Separate time for extra doses:
Assume same base 10 sec x30 for max extra time = 5 min per extra dose—but with -5 task mod, not +5!
Definitely need a Poisons roll (per rules)!
Sample net mods to Poisons, using -5 hard task mod and mod for time:
- 5 min (presumably the norm for the task): +0 (i.e., a roll vs Poisons, per the rules)
- 40 sec: -3
- 10 sec: -5
- 1 sec: -14!
Note: Remember that readying vials of poison also takes time, should players cut envenoming time down to where that matters.
Rushed envenoming would seem to carry a chance of self-poisoning mishaps, from increased risk of crit fail.
But per rules, the Poisons roll happens later in combat, not when envenoming. So unless you make some change to procedures, hurried poisoners aren’t at risk.
2022-04-10: I think Thaumatology makes sense as a prereq for “magic chemistry”, i.e., Alchemy. (Compare: Naturalist as a prereq for Herb Lore.) Just my preference.
This won’t trip up many PC alchemists, as they’re usually wizards who already know Thaumatology.
2022-04-11: Body Sense is a fine skill, but it’s still a one-trick action that’s far, far more limited in its use than Acrobatics. Consider changing it from Hard to Easy.
2022-04-12: The Close to Hell talent (DF 20: Slayers) covers several demon-related skills, but not Physiology (Demons).
Add that skill, plus Thaumatology, Banish, and Pentagram, for a more comprehensive 10-point, 10-skill talent. (Call it “Closer to Hell”?)
Note that Banish and Pentagram here are the demon-slayer “skill” versions of the spells, not the normal magical spells.
More info here: link
2022-04-13: Why allow multiple (if increasingly difficult) Parry defenses per turn, but only one Block?
Try multiple Blocks per Martial Arts p. 123, with its cumulative -5 penalty. (Or get fancy: Use -(3+DB) as the penalty, making smaller shields more agile.)
Halve this penalty for Weapon Master (Shields).
Pyramid #3/118 and DFRPG Companion 3 offer the shield-bearer, a profession that makes heavy use of those multiple blocks (and would make for a really great defender/bodyguard). Get that and go create Captain Camelot or something.
See some more talk about shield-bearers in this forum thread: link
2022-04-14: DF/DFRPG bards are encouraged to carry instruments—but their magic doesn’t actually seem to require more than Singing.
As a simple way to get instruments into casting, let Musical Instrument or Singing act as a complementary skill for the other.
On the other hand, lots of complementary rolls can add up to a drag on play, so take care.
I’d welcome other ways to make the use of instruments more instrumental to bards. Or is “backup for when you can’t sing” reason enough to carry a lute?
2022-04-15: The cinematic Weapon Master works with lots of weapons. Sadly, those with a “U” Parry get cheated out of a key benefit: the reduced penalty for multiple parries.
Idea: Let Weapon Master eliminate the “U” (but not reduce the multiple parry penalty).
Example: Weapon Master that covers axes and maces changes an axe’s Parry from 0U to 0, a lifesaver in combat. However, multiple parries with the axe take the usual -4 penalty, not halved for Weapon Master.
Effect: WM speeds up axe defense too, if not to the same agility as swords.
2022-04-16: DF/DFRPG: A general first-aid kit ($50, 2 lb) is considered good-quality equipment (+1 to First-Aid rolls), not basic-quality.
Here’s a fine-quality first-aid kit: $200, 8 lb; +2 instead of +1 to First-Aid rolls. Extra tweezers and all that.
- For weapons, a step above basic quality is called “fine”; a step above that is called “very fine”.
- For other equipment, a step above basic quality is called “good”; a step above that is called “fine”.
I think I’d have preferred standardized terms here…
Or “fine” and “very fine” for weapons, and “good” and “very good” for other stuff.
No big deal, but the current terms can be a little confusing.
2022-04-17: DF/DFRPG: The basic healer’s kit is presumably a basic quality item.
Allow good-quality ($1000, 50 lb) and fine-quality ($4000, 200 lb) kits – though those become more room-based setups than portable kits!
Same with the basic surgery kit ($300, 15 lb): Allow good-quality ($1500, 75 lb) and fine-quality ($6000, 300 lb) kits.
Pair a fine-quality healer’s kit and fine-quality surgery kit for a full medieval clinic ($10,000, 500 lbs., +2 to any Esoteric Medicine or Surgery rolls).
2022-04-18: DF/DFRPG: A healer’s kit can substitute for a normal (i.e., good-quality) first-aid kit, for a +1 bonus on many First-Aid rolls.
Let a good-quality ($1000, 50 lb) or better healer’s kit function as a fine-quality first-aid kit for a +2 bonus.
- A basic healer’s kit ($200, 10 lb) gives +0 bonus to Esoteric Medicine, +1 to First-Aid (per rules).
- A good-quality healer’s kit ($1000, 50 lb) would give +1 to EM, +2 to First-Aid.
- A fine-quality healer’s kit ($4000, 200 lb) would give +2 to EM and +2 to First-Aid.
Sounds good to me, given the hefty weight of those boosted-quality healer’s kits.
Yet another load to strap onto the party barbarian or other pack animal…
2022-04-19: DFRPG makes a healer’s kit a requirement for some uses of Esoteric Medicine.
For flexibility, allow kit-less rolls with improvised equipment—say, -10 for none, -6 for bandages, -5 for a first-aid kit, -3 for the healer’s kit of a different EM.
Also let an Esoteric Medicine healer’s kit replace a surgery kit, and vice-versa, at -5.
Should equipment quality bonuses affect “kit defaults”? Sure, I say. For example, a Surgery task could use a fine-quality (+2 bonus) Esoteric Medicine healer’s kit at -3, not -5.
How about Esoteric Medicine using a fine-quality first-aid kit?
The -5 penalty I suggest for a normal (i.e., good-quality) first-aid kit already includes the kit’s inherent +1 bonus. So a fine-quality first-aid kit’s +2 bonus would improve the Esoteric Medicine penalty to -4.
2022-04-20: DF/DFRPG: Assume that Veterinary skill calls for its own special healer’s kit, with the same cost and weight as an Esoteric Medicine healer’s kit, for any task that would require a kit (GM call, but use Esoteric Medicine as reference).
Per earlier entries, also allow good-quality ($1000, 50 lb) and fine-quality ($4000, 200 lb) Veterinary healer kits.
Also allow a Veterinary kit to replace an Esoteric Medicine healer’s kit, or vice-versa, at -3 to skill.
(But for simplicity, assume a surgery kit is universal.)
2022-04-21: DF/DFRPG: It may not be obvious at a glance, but the three versions of Esoteric Medicine aren’t equal. From best to worst:
Esoteric Medicine (Chi) > Esoteric Medicine (Druidic) > Esoteric Medicine (Clerical)
- EM (Chi): Bonus from Chi Talent, and always works (even if bonus burns out from ying/yang imbalance).
- EM (Druidic): No bonus from mystical power, but always works (even without Nature’s Strength).
- EM (Clerical): No bonus from mystical power, and stops working without Sanctity.
At the same time, druids can brew cheap cures, and clerics of course have awesome healing magic; it’s all an interesting balance.
Same stuff noted online here: link
2022-04-22: This may be in rules somewhere already:
If injury forces an HT roll to resist infection:
- Let First Aid or Physician act as a complementary roll (thanks to proper disinfection).
To save rolling, this could be the same roll used for bandaging.
If an unhealed wound (incl. Wounded disad) is exposed to a contagion source, forcing or penalizing an HT roll vs disease:
- If the wound was bandaged, roll vs bandager’s First Aid or Physician. Success means tight wraps that prevent the disease roll or penalty.
In high-tech, these may not matter if antibiotics nuke disease/infection anyway.
In fantasy, these won’t matter if infection happens instantly, before first aid!
Seems fair to wait til after the battle to check for Monster Bite-itus, to give med skills a chance to help first.
All a bit of extra detail for a group that enjoys adventures in medical treatment. (Hey, some players actually do…)
Thank you for your patience during Health Week, seven days of entries on tools and rules for patching up PCs.
2022-04-23: You don’t need a hex map for tactical combat; just use a ruler, like this bespoke model: link
You’ll still have to GM-call and eyeball some things, like facing. It’s sort of a middle ground between basic and tactical combat.
Tip: Flat counters make it easier to maneuver a ruler and measure combatants’ center-to-center distances. (With miniatures, use a short (4″?) ruler for packed melee spaces.)
1″ counters or bases make it easy to eyeball a Step or other inch-based movement without rulering.
If you want to exploit hex-less tricks to the max, keep fractional Move scores (Move 4.8? Sure, just measure it) or even experiment with finely detailed Step distances and weapon Reach.
But stay open to reasonable eyeballing. Obsessive measuring isn’t fun.
2022-04-24: DFRPG: The Hazardous Materials skill is cool, but doesn’t see much action in the books or published adventures.
Be generous in letting the skill replace Alchemy for any roll to collect, store, transport, etc. dangerous materials/items.
Removal of weird magical monster bits should be a showcase for HM skill.
Rules already specify HM for extracting poisons. For removing magical organs with Surgery, add a roll vs HM to do so safely. Maybe another roll to preserve the organs’ potency on the trip back to town.
Demonstrated uses of the skill, as inspirations:
- In the Harry Potter series, proper handling of mandrake roots seems to fall under HM.
- In real life: Okay, we don’t have magic stuff, but careful removal of toxic organs from puffer fish is close in spirit.
2022-04-25: By the rules, Striking ST helps meet the ST requirement for most weapons.
But IMO, Lifting ST is the more appropriate stat here, for many reasons—not the least of which is letting a DF/DFRPG dwarf (ST 10) actually use an axe (ST 12)!
No new complications or fancy stuff here; just “Use Lifting ST, not Striking ST, to help meet weapon ST.” That’s all. Benefits are detailed here: link
(The dwarves are all behind this idea. You might like it too.)
2022-04-26: RPGs typically give monsters high DX (or the equivalent), which is often fine.
But for big “roaring and brawling” beasts in GURPS, I like DX 10, 8, or lower, compensated by AoA and/or Telegraphic Attack.
This just feels right in combat, IMO. Part of that feel is effect on defenses.
- If the brute compensates with AoA (Determined), it loses Active Defenses: fewer rolls by the GM, more solid hits by PCs.
- If the brute uses Telegraphic Attack, PCs more often look cool deflecting and dodging its attacks.
It’s all good.
Naturally, monsters with DX lowered a few levels are weaker monsters. Treat accordingly in terms of monster numbers, experience rewards, etc. (And, yes, toss in occasional high-speed, high-DX brutes as well, as unpleasant surprises.)
Basic stuff, but maybe useful for new GMs.
2022-04-27: New Talent: Assassin’s Gift [5/lvl]
Take +1/lvl to Blowpipe, Fast-Draw (Knife), Garrote, Poisons, and Thrown Weapon (Knife).
Reaction Bonus: None.
Alternative Benefit: +1/level TH with Knife or other Reach C attack if a true backstab.
This is for those good at fighting—just not straight-up, fair fighting.
The Alternative Benefit boosts melee TH with backstabs, OSR-style. Feel free to restrict this Talent to fantasy thief-types.
More talents at link
2022-04-28: New Talent: Born Brawler [5/lvl]
Take +1/lvl to Boxing, Brawling, Forced Entry, Knife, and Wrestling.
Reaction Bonus: Brawlers, etc.
Alternative Benefit: +1/lvl to execute/spot dirty tricks in combat; and to DX (not skill) rolls in close combat.
This is for naturals at simple skills for melee combat and smashing things.
For a more aggressive Talent, replace the Alternative Benefit with “+1/lvl to TH with All-Out Attack in close combat”.
More detail at link
2022-04-29: A super-simple random ST score for a creature:
- Roll 3d + SM
- Multiply by height/length in yards (from Size Speed/Range Table)
- Divide by 2
Done. Figure BL, damage, etc. normally from there.
Here, size mainly affects ST through the multiplication in 2 – but I’ve also made SM a direct mod in 1. That’s to generate the bulky, muscular builds of big critters and the spindlier builds of small ones. Feel free to drop this mod if you don’t want the effect.
How to adjust stats (esp. ST) for a creature’s size is pretty fundamental stuff, but I don’t think it’s actually spelled out in Basic Set. See supplements like Fantasy and Bio-Tech to flesh out the picture. (Or see fan-made supplements like this: link)
2022-04-30: A super-simple random DX score for a creature:
- Roll 3d + 2 – SM.
SM is included to give big/small creatures a lumbering/agile feel. The +2 is there because games conventionally give monsters high DX.
Drop either of these mods if you like.
Entries by month:
Header image: Posting tweets the old way.
Source: “Georg Liebe – Der Soldat” 1899
Woodcut from Prüss, Strassburg (1488) Montevilla